Paul P. Mealing

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Saturday, 18 June 2011

MAD RUSH by Philip Glass

Yes, something entirely different for me. If you look up my profile you'll see that my musical tastes are quite diverse: AC/DC to J.S.Bach is a broad church.

I recently acquired this CD and I can't get enough of it. I wanted to share it and I guess that's what blogs are for.

Here is a sample of the opening track called Opening overlaid with some commentary by the pianist, Sally Whitwell.

Other tracks include Metamorphosis I-V (runs about 30 mins), which Glass wrote for Kafka's famous play, and Dead Things, which is from the sound track of Hours (a film about Virginia Woolf starring Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep).

The title track sits in the middle and is about 15 mins long. It's like a dialogue between contemplation and exuberance - an unusual juxtaposition that works - it swells and ebbs, and it always makes me listen. I never get sick of it.

The last track is called Wichita Vortex Sutra, and, according to the CD notes, arose from a chance meeting between Philip Glass and Allen Ginsberg in a Manhattan bookshop, where Ginsberg asked Glass if he'd perform a '...duo of sorts at a benefit concert for the Vietnam Veteran Theatre.' Apparently, 'The work is just as often performed with narration as without.' It has an anthem feel about it and it reminds me of Oscar Peterson's Hymn to Freedom off Night Train, but whether that's a deliberate allusion by Glass or just me, I don't know.

The instrument - the only instrument on the recording - deserves special mention, because it's an Australian-made Stuart and Sons 102 keyboard piano. Their pianos have already featured on award-winning classical CDs.

To add a bit of philosophy to this post, I will quote Sally Whitwell's impression of Wichita Vortex Sutra:

There's a solidarity in the realisation that we can fight and be heard. There is an optimism too, or even more than that, an ecstatic epiphany that brings about a surprisingly serene conclusion and a return to the ordinary, to the drive down the highway. I could talk for hours about the metaphor of the highway, but instead I think I should leave you to your own conclusions.

Addendum: Listen to Wichita Vortex Sutra


Paul P. Mealing said...

I've added an addendum to my MAD RUSH post so you can listen to a gratuitous track.

Regards, Paul.

Paul Carlin said...

Thanks Paul,

I really enjoyed the creative skill and visual impact of the "sillywhatwell" clip - it was brilliant.

Phillip Glass I find very interesting. In my mind, he is very much out of the traditional circle and he takes a little while to appreciate some of his work. However, the sample included in your bolg really got me.

Paul P. Mealing said...

Paul Carlin sent me this link: Arvo Part's Spiegel Im Spiegel set to gorgeous photographs.

Paul P. Mealing said...

Sally Whitwell's Mad Rush CD has achieved No3 on the ARIA classical charts. ARIA stands for Australian Record Industry Awards.

Regards, Paul.

Paul P. Mealing said...

According to Sally Whitwell's own blog, Mad Rush is currently No1 on the iTunes Australia Classical Chart.

Regards, Paul.

Paul P. Mealing said...

Sally Whitwell has done an interview on Philip Glass and her approach to his music.

Regards, Paul.